Weblogic Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Michael Meiner, Michael Bushong, Avi Rosenthal

Related Topics: Weblogic

Weblogic: Article

Java - A Slow Language?It Depends on What You're Talking About

Java - A Slow Language?It Depends on What You're Talking About

In the past six years or so the claim that Java is a slow language has regularly appeared in articles and news discussions. Most of the time I follow the debate, but after a while I get bored because the discussions remain at the micro-benchmark level. It continues to amaze me that there isn't more focus on system-level performance in discussions of language performance.

Having spent seven years actively interested in the field of runtime system optimization and the past four years designing a server-side JVM, JRockit, I am pretty convinced that micro-benchmark results cannot be extended to the system level, where performance really matters. Thus, I thought it would be interesting to give you a view of the performance issue from a JVM developer perspective. I'm arguing that Java is anything but a slow and inefficient language, and that the JVM is the key component ensuring that the system is as fast and easy to deploy and run as it was fast and easy to develop.

Performance Is Not a Micro-Benchmark
This is 2002 and people are still arguing that Java is a slow language. The most common argument comes from developers who have written small benchmarks in Java and then rewritten them in C and are touting how much faster the C programs are. I'm not writing this article to claim that they are wrong.

Of course they can write micro-benchmarks in a couple lines of Java code and redo the same benchmarks in C/C++ and the C programs will probably run faster than the Java programs. That's not where I disagree with them. I disagree with their conclusion; the results of a small micro-benchmark test cannot be extended to say anything about a large-scale application. I believe most systems will be built faster by fewer developers and they will even run faster if they are written in Java instead of C. Java is a language of scale; C is a language of micro-level performance. The development of Java is a natural result of the evolution of system development.

The System Development Evolution: From Punch Cards to Web Services
What has happened during the past 30 years or so is an explosion - the explosion of large-scale system development. There are so many developers in the world now, and they're building systems that are larger than what anyone imagined possible 30 years ago. In addition, application development today is no longer an I-build-every-part-of-the-application-myself process. People use standard libraries, frameworks, application servers, and most recently, Web services, to build their applications.

The components are getting bigger and bigger and more and more general. These building blocks, which were once looked upon with disbelief and mistrust, are now taken for granted. However, using these general building blocks has a price: performance. We have traded performance for significantly reduced development time and system complexity. At least that's what we think and what our early measurements indicate. What if we're wrong?

Enter Java and JVMs
The beauty of Java from a large-scale application performance perspective is in two features that are very crucial to performance for large-scale systems: type information and a runtime system (the JVM). The type information is needed by the code generator to discern who calls who, and who points to who. As a result more information can be extracted from a Java program than from a C program, if the compiler is smart. The end result is, of course, higher performance. The JVM is the vehicle for dynamic optimization. The JVM can analyze the behavior of the application and adapt itself and the generated code to the application.

The beauty of this runtime optimization approach is that for the first time ever, the whole system can be optimized specifically for how it is used without having the source code. This is the opportunity. The framework developer can build a general framework that gets used by application developers and that gets optimized specifically for each application that uses the framework. The general building blocks are broken down and melt into each other at runtime. It is the responsibility of the JVM to do this melting. The JVMs, including JRockit, have not reached that goal...yet.

When Dynamic Optimization Really Pays Off
Let me give you another example of the benefits of dynamic optimization. Look at Intel's new 64-bit platform, the Itanium Processor. Its characteristics are novel and enticing. Nevertheless, its EPIC architecture puts very high pressure on the compiler. EPIC means that the compiler has to choose which instructions should be executed in parallel. Most normal processors today do that selection automatically in their out-of-order execution engine. Because the EPIC-based CPUs need to make fewer decisions, they increase the computational efficiency. The caveat is that the compiler has to make intelligent decisions for the performance to increase.

Given all this pressure on the compiler, you might think that EPIC architecture is well-suited for static compilation and that it virtually eliminates the need for a dynamic runtime system. I believe we'll be able to show you in the coming years how totally opposite the reality is. The reason is that the devil is in the details: for the compiler to be able to parallelize code in a good way requires more than knowing the instructions of the program. The compiler has to know two more things: the flow of the program, and the values that are passed around and used in different contexts.

A static compiler doesn't have this runtime information; it cannot tell what parts of the program are executed frequently or what values are commonly passed to a function from a specific call site. A dynamic runtime system, e.g., a JVM, is the easiest kind of system to collect and take advantage of such information. Consequently, I expect to see exciting gains during the next two years for the Itanium-based JVMs. There is a possibility that they'll catch up with and supercede the profile-guided C compilers on EPIC platforms. Because it lacks type information and a runtime system, C is inferior to Java for EPIC architecture.

The JVM - The Glue for the Building Blocks
BEA acquired JRockit in February of this year, and we are now working to integrate JRockit into the BEA product line, making sure that it works well with all of the different BEA products. Bringing the building blocks and glue under the same roof makes your system more manageable and scalable and makes it run faster. The JRockit JVM is becoming an important piece of the BEA WebLogic Platform.

In conclusion, I still expect to see a lot of micro-benchmarks out there comparing Java and C programs, but I hope I've convinced you that using runtime systems like Sun Microsystems' HotSpot or BEA WebLogic JRockit Java is not slow or inefficient, and that the performance of a large-scale system built with Java may be superior to that of the same system built using C.

More Stories By Joakim Dahlstedt

Joakim Dahlstedt is the CTO of the Java Runtime Products Group at BEA Systems Inc, where he is responsible for the future development directions
for the JVM. He was the founder and one of the chief architects of JRockit, the JVM BEA acquired in early 2002. He has been working with Java and dynamic runtime optimizations since 1996.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

@ThingsExpo Stories
DX World EXPO, LLC, a Lighthouse Point, Florida-based startup trade show producer and the creator of "DXWorldEXPO® - Digital Transformation Conference & Expo" has announced its executive management team. The team is headed by Levent Selamoglu, who has been named CEO. "Now is the time for a truly global DX event, to bring together the leading minds from the technology world in a conversation about Digital Transformation," he said in making the announcement.
"Space Monkey by Vivent Smart Home is a product that is a distributed cloud-based edge storage network. Vivent Smart Home, our parent company, is a smart home provider that places a lot of hard drives across homes in North America," explained JT Olds, Director of Engineering, and Brandon Crowfeather, Product Manager, at Vivint Smart Home, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Conference Guru has been named “Media Sponsor” of the 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. A valuable conference experience generates new contacts, sales leads, potential strategic partners and potential investors; helps gather competitive intelligence and even provides inspiration for new products and services. Conference Guru works with conference organizers to pass great deals to gre...
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develop...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, led attendees through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He looked at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering m...
"Evatronix provides design services to companies that need to integrate the IoT technology in their products but they don't necessarily have the expertise, knowledge and design team to do so," explained Adam Morawiec, VP of Business Development at Evatronix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
To get the most out of their data, successful companies are not focusing on queries and data lakes, they are actively integrating analytics into their operations with a data-first application development approach. Real-time adjustments to improve revenues, reduce costs, or mitigate risk rely on applications that minimize latency on a variety of data sources. In his session at @BigDataExpo, Jack Norris, Senior Vice President, Data and Applications at MapR Technologies, reviewed best practices to ...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
Large industrial manufacturing organizations are adopting the agile principles of cloud software companies. The industrial manufacturing development process has not scaled over time. Now that design CAD teams are geographically distributed, centralizing their work is key. With large multi-gigabyte projects, outdated tools have stifled industrial team agility, time-to-market milestones, and impacted P&L stakeholders.
"Akvelon is a software development company and we also provide consultancy services to folks who are looking to scale or accelerate their engineering roadmaps," explained Jeremiah Mothersell, Marketing Manager at Akvelon, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"IBM is really all in on blockchain. We take a look at sort of the history of blockchain ledger technologies. It started out with bitcoin, Ethereum, and IBM evaluated these particular blockchain technologies and found they were anonymous and permissionless and that many companies were looking for permissioned blockchain," stated René Bostic, Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Conventi...
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Carl J. Levine, Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1, will objectively discuss how DNS is used to solve Digital Transformation challenges in large SaaS applications, CDNs, AdTech platforms, and other demanding use cases. Carl J. Levine is the Senior Technical Evangelist for NS1. A veteran of the Internet Infrastructure space, he has over a decade of experience with startups, networking protocols and Internet infrastructure, combined with the unique ability to it...
22nd International Cloud Expo, taking place June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and co-located with the 1st DXWorld Expo will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. Cloud computing is now being embraced by a majority of enterprises of all sizes. Yesterday's debate about public vs. private has transformed into the reality of hybrid cloud: a recent survey shows that 74% of enterprises have a hybrid cloud ...
"Cloud Academy is an enterprise training platform for the cloud, specifically public clouds. We offer guided learning experiences on AWS, Azure, Google Cloud and all the surrounding methodologies and technologies that you need to know and your teams need to know in order to leverage the full benefits of the cloud," explained Alex Brower, VP of Marketing at Cloud Academy, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clar...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
"MobiDev is a software development company and we do complex, custom software development for everybody from entrepreneurs to large enterprises," explained Alan Winters, U.S. Head of Business Development at MobiDev, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Coca-Cola’s Google powered digital signage system lays the groundwork for a more valuable connection between Coke and its customers. Digital signs pair software with high-resolution displays so that a message can be changed instantly based on what the operator wants to communicate or sell. In their Day 3 Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Chambers, Global Group Director, Digital Innovation, Coca-Cola, and Vidya Nagarajan, a Senior Product Manager at Google, discussed how from store operations and ...
"There's plenty of bandwidth out there but it's never in the right place. So what Cedexis does is uses data to work out the best pathways to get data from the origin to the person who wants to get it," explained Simon Jones, Evangelist and Head of Marketing at Cedexis, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CrowdReviews.com has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5–7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CrowdReviews.com is a transparent online platform for determining which products and services are the best based on the opinion of the crowd. The crowd consists of Internet users that have experienced products and services first-hand and have an interest in letting other potential buye...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Telecom Reseller has been named “Media Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 22nd International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 5-7, 2018, at the Javits Center in New York, NY. Telecom Reseller reports on Unified Communications, UCaaS, BPaaS for enterprise and SMBs. They report extensively on both customer premises based solutions such as IP-PBX as well as cloud based and hosted platforms.